Press Release
October 3, 2006

Drilon: Ombudsman ruling on Mega Pacific
deal can be elevated to High Court

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin Drilon today said the Supreme Court will eventually be the final arbiter that would determine whether officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who were involved in the P1.3 billion poll automation deal with the Mega Pacific consortium were guilty of any wrongdoing.

"For me, the best thing to do is to elevate this decision of the Ombudsman absolving Comelec commissioners of any wrongdoing in the Mega Pacific deal to the Supreme Court," Drilon said when asked to comment on the recommendation of an Ombudsman panel clearing poll officials in the allegedly fraudulent deal that the high court itself voided in January 2004.

In a complete turnaround, the Office of the Ombudsman Monday absolved of any wrongdoing Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos and other officials who were involved in the Mega Pacific deal, saying the case showed "no evidence of malice, bad faith and partiality to warrant an indictment."

"In my view, this is not the end of the story," Drilon said. The Ombudsman doesn't have the last say, it is the Supreme Court. I suggest to those who are not satisfied with the decision of the Ombudsman to take the legal process immediately."

Drilon said once the recommendation was approved by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the petitioners can contest the decision before the High Tribunal, adding that "it was the Supreme Court that directed the Ombudsman to conduct the investigation on the allegedly anomalous Mega Pacific deal anyway."

The former Senate President also noted that the Ombudsman recommendation contradicted by findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which was adopted by the Senate as a body, recommending sanctions against Comelec officials involved in the Mega Pacific deal.

"We can keep on debating and there are no remedies available except to bring it up to the Supreme Court," Drilon noted.

In its recommendation, the Ombudsman panel said that the Mega Pacific deal was not disadvantageous to the government and that the counting machines had passed the requirements. But the Supreme Court had said in its ruling that the awarding of the contract to Mega Pacific violated the law and the Comelec's own bidding rules.

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